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The year the ball didn’t drop

It was 42 years ago, December 31, 1975, my first year teaching school and I was visiting friends in California during winter break. It took me four days to hitchhike from New Jersey to Los Angeles. After two days in California, it was time for me to head back to NJ. My plan was to hitchhike. (I had done it in both directions perhaps a half-dozen times in the previous 18 month so I was confident about the timing). Anyway, if I left L.A. on the 31st, I’d be home on the 3rd, ready for work on the 4th. Only I didn’t much like the idea of standing on the side of L.A. highways on New Years Eve. It didn’t seem like the safest place to be. So I amended my plan. I got on a Greyhound Bus sometime the evening of the 31st heading east. My plan was to ride the bus until morning and then hitchhike the rest of the way. So anyway, as I was saying, I got on the bus on the evening of the 31st. It was approximately 11:30 when the bus driver picked up his microphone to make an announcement. I figured he was going to wish us a happy new year. I was wrong. He announced that we had just crossed from the pacific time zone into the mountain time zone. It took a moment for the import of his announcement to sink in. It was, suddenly, 12:30 am on January 1. There would be no midnight. No ball dropping, no horns tooting, no glasses clinking, no sweethearts kissing, no midnight. It was the New Year that wasn’t.

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